Iraq wants goods ties with neighbours – Iraqi PM


Brussels : Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has told the European Parliament (EP) that the security situation in Iraq has improved and gave an assurance that “free and fair” provincial elections will be held in October.

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Speaking at a joint meeting of the EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee and its Delegation for Relations with Iraq Wednesday, Al-Maliki said Bqghdad wants good ties with its neighbouring countries. “We want good relations with Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia on the basis of mutual respect and non-interference in our internal affairs.”

On the question of the provincial elections, Al-Maliki said his government would “ensure that militias will not interfere.”

He noted that “Iraqis are tired of militias and terrorist actions,” adding that “refusing the presence of militias at the elections is agreed upon by all parties.”

Asked by an MEP whether he was in agreement with US General David Petraeus that a withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq was not advisable at present, Al-Maliki replied that a sudden withdrawal of coalition troops would “lead to confusion,” and that an “organised withdrawal is foreseen.”

On Iraqi refugees abroad, the prime minister noted that “we have provided money to help Iraqis abroad, but we have to bring them back.”

“We need their competence to return to the country,” he said.

The EP’s Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski welcomed the Iraqi prime minister on his first visit to the European Parliament, while the Iraq Delegation chair, Emma Nicholson, noted the increased attention EP is paying to Iraq.

She announced plans to visit Iraq at the end of the month with some members of the Delegation.